Trinity – A first time vist to this Clapham Restaurant, its has been on the wish list for a while.
NEW SOUTH WALES – AUSTRALIA
Rick Stein at Bannisters – Our Australian correspondent visited Ricks restaurant in Cornwall a couple of years ago so should be in a good position to see how the Australian outpost compares. Apparently it’s a tad warmer there than Padstow.
Lunch at The Ledbury was always going to be an occasion. The food is superb. I simply could not fault any of the dishes I chose from their Sunday Lunch menu. Indeed it was one of these occasions where I really wanted to try nearly all the dishes on the menu. Fortunately I was part of a large enough group to ensure that collectively we were able to order a range of different dishes. There were no dissenting voices at all, every one loved the food. Only one thing went wrong during the lunch, which impacted on the table next to ours. Water started coming through the ceiling from the room above, I guess a burst pipe due to the cold weather. Nothing much the restaurant could do except, put a bowl on the table, call the plumber and move the guests to another table. However it must have been very embarrassing for the staff, as the guests concerned included Martin Scorsese, Sacha Baron Cohen and Isla Fisher who certainly did not seem to particularly want to draw attention to themselves. Something that is hard to do when you have to stand up to avoid being splashed!
However when the food is this good, you do not let little things like plumbing problems get in the way, so back to the food.
My starter was the Flamed Grilled Mackerel with Smoked Eel, Tokyo Turnips and Celtic Mustard, it was a great choice. The Mackerel had so much flavour, it was really fresh and just melted in my mouth. The portion was quite substantial for a starter, but despite that I could easily have had seconds.
I was also tempted by the Ceviche of Hand Dived Scallops with Seaweed and Herb Dill Kohlrabi and Frozen Horseradish which one of my companions ordered. Visually it did not look as good, but I was told it was delicious, if a little light and summery for a winter menu.
For my main course I choose fish again. The Skate Poached in Brown Butter with Truffle Puree, Cauliflower, Parmesan Gnocchi and Sea Vegetables. This has to be my dish of the year. It was just so moreish. The Skate was perfect and the Parmesan Gnocchi reminded me so much of another favourite, the Gnocchi dish I had at The Foliage.
For dessert I ordered the Brown Sugar Tart with Muscat Grapes and Stem Ginger Ice Cream, which was matched with a surprisingly fruity Pedro Ximenez sherry from Barossa Valley in Australia, it was very different from the Spanish ones I have had in the past. The tart was very light and the ice cream was very subtle. The dessert highlight however had to be the Passion Fruit Souffle with Sauterne Ice cream, which was large enough for us all to try – a perfect Souffle.
This is the first post from our “Australian correspondent”. A foodie friend who has emigrated to warmer climes. The subject is Berowra Waters Inn an amazing venue reachable by seaplane.
Berowra Waters Inn – High Flyer or Car Crash?
Berowra Waters Inn is uniquely located in the the stunning Hawkesbury River, and is only accessible by “seaplane, boat or the restaurant’s own private ferry”. Originally opened by Tony and Gay Bilson, and recently re-opened by Dietmar Sawyer, the restaurant is frequented by both epicures, and those celebrating special occasions. It was just such a special occasion, my birthday, that took us to Berowra. We chose to arrive in style by seaplane from Rose Bay, a high flying start to the day! Our original delight at the restaurant’s location, and our wonderful window seat, grew to dismay at the simply shocking service. Menus were slow to arrive, as was the taking of our orders. Having placed our order for 6 courses, one couldn’t help but begin to wonder when we might see the first one! An hour and a half after sitting down, we only had one course, by which point we were simply starving! After sharp words, and a call to our pilot to delay our return, our next 3 courses arrived in rapid succession! And what amazing courses they were!
The food at Berowra is simply exquisite, world class. I was blown away by the Langoustine Pastilla and Wagyu Beef dishes. Food quality was on par with some of my favourite London Michelin Starred restaurants, such as Tom Aikens and Foliage. In light of this, we think we might forgive Berowra Waters it’s awful service, and will certainly be back for another visit!
Last Post for the Foliage, not last post for No Expert – we are still going strong. The Foliage at the Mandarin Oriental however had a farewell lunch service today. It was lovely to be there but tinged with sadness, as it marked the end of an era for us.
The team pulled out all the stops. We started with a complimentary glass of superb champagne and some very tasty canapes. This was followed by the amuse bouche. We then had the opportunity to go off menu to choose some of the dishes. One of the standouts being the Sea Diver Scallops with chicken and mushrooms. It was also impossible not to order our last gnocchi, one of the Foliages sublime dishes. For main course we choose the lamb and an off menu beef dish, the wine selection chosen to go with this was absolutely stunning. Indeed all the wines selections were off a very high standard. I especially enjoyed the Trocken Beerenauslese, Nittaus, 2004 dessert wine.
The ever attentive staff were on hand to bring us up to date on the progess being made to complete the Daniel Boulud Restaurant (Bar Boulud) in the basement, due to open in May, and the Heston Blumental Restaurant which would be the Foliage replacement, due to open towards the end of this year. It is just a shame that a such a fine restaurant is closing prematurely to make way for these changes. It was good to see the Head Chef Alex Marks come out of the kitchen to talk to some of the regular dinners, where he received some direct praise for his teams work over the years. It was also a nice touch to be presented with a copy of the menu signed by members of staff as a memento.
So it’s a fond fairwell to the Foliage. We and the other regulars will miss you.
A first for us, getting the dates wrong for one of our restaurant visits. It turned out that we had arrived a week earlier than our booking – almost a disaster. Fortunately they just managed to squeeze us in. We literally got the very last table in a packed restaurant.
The meal was of the usual high standard, with the Gnocchi and Ox Cheeks dishes being the standouts. In fact it was so good, we decided to keep the booking for the next week as well!.
Felt a bit odd returning to the Foliage our favorite restaurant following the regime change. Alex Marks is now the Head Chef, he was Chris Staines Sous chef for a couple of years and had formally worked at The Square. The menu still retains a number of Chris’s dishes, and a few new ones from Alex. One of Alexs’ dishes the gnocchi was a particular success, which although it contained no meat, seemed to deliver the essence of Sunday lunch.
The new Heston Blumental restaurant is yet to be named and is due to open in October 2010 with perhaps as many as 200 covers. Time will tell if all these changes are for the best. One thing is for sure is that we will miss Chris Staines and the Foliage once it goes for good. I just hope the staff are kept on under the new regime as Heston would be unwise to lose the talent in the kitchen and front of house.
As you will see from the earlier post – Fairwell to Chris Staines, the Foliage is not going to be with us for that much longer in its current form. I do not know the exact date of its demise. According to our sources, the plan is to combine the space currently occupied by the Foliage and The Park Restaurant to provide a new 140 cover restaurant (Heston Blumenthals London flagship). Most of the area currently used by the Foliage will become the kitchen. A new (temporary) restaurant will be housed in the basement while this work is going on.
Update : November 2009 – Looks like the basement restaurant is not going to be temporary after all, as New York restauranteur Daniel Boulud is opening Europes first Bar Boulud restaurant in a previously unused space beneath the hotel.
Update : January 2010 – The latest information seems to be that the Foliage will be closing sometime in March.
Update : March 2010 – We attended a fairwell lunch at the Foliage, for details see post:
The only regular restaurant we ever visited in London was the Foliage. We have been going there for a number of years. Now that Chris Staines is leaving we have been on the lookout for a replacement regular lunch venue. When I say regular I mean every couple of months. You can have too much of a good thing.
In fact it was a member of the Foliage staff that recommended Launceston Place. I had not heard of the place but made a mental note to give it a try sometime. In the mean time the Great British Menu had propelled its young head chef Tristan Welch to fame. So it was with some anticipation that we visited.
At the start of the meal we were presented with a few spicy crisps tied together with a piece of ribbon bearing the restaurant name. While very cute I didn’t really enjoy starting off my meal with greasy fingers. The food was good, peaking for me with the main course of rose veal and sweetbreads. This was very good. To finish I had my first taste of Cranachan the supposedly traditional Scottish dish (I’m Scottish and had never heard of it or had it while growing up!). It was nicely presented although I suspect a traditional Scot might not recognise it. It was okay not something to rave about unfortunately.
On the way out we bumped into Tristan and had a long conversation with him. He really is a very friendly young guy and we wish him well in the future as he really is a talented chef.
Lauceston Place has 2 AA Rosettes, I suspect a third one is not too far away.
Launceston Place was also a venue on Celebrity Master Chef this year, the winner made a point of mentioning how useful her time there was. Tristan has also been a guest chef on Saturday Kitchen.
Had my last meal at my favourite London restaurant the Foliage with Chris Staines as Head Chef. Chris was in the last week of his 3 months notice before he moves onto pastures new. Heston Blumenthal will open up his first London restaurant in its place in the Mandarin Oriental in a years time.
What amazed me was that even in his last week Chris was producing simply breathtakingly stunning dishes…Respect.
Over the years I’ve had some fantastic meals at the Foliage. In fact I use it as a benchmark to judge every other restaurant I visit. The service there is exceptional and the way Chris uses flavour and texture is the mark of a true artist. I suspect that the much larger replacement restaurant in the Mandarin Oriental will not live up to the high standard set by Chris or indeed Heston at the Fat Duck.
So many celebrity chefs are going down the “franchise” route, with disastrous results. The Abode chain (Micheal Caines) being a prime example and don’t get me started on how awful Harveys is (John Burton Race).
I’d like to thank Chris and his team at the Foliage for giving us many memorable meals (It was my experience of eating at the Foliage that got me interested in food) and to wish him the very best for the future. I just wish he was staying in London as his talent will be sorely missed.
For a group booking it will be hard to beat this location, for either the glamour of the venue or the value for money.
When I went to The Park, it was with a group of 12 people, and we were choosing from an early evening set menu that included unlimited wine with the first two courses.
The food and the service were of the high standard you would expect from the Mandarin Oriental, but what really surprised us was the range of options. How many places do you know that do a set menu where 12 people can all have different desserts?.
On the down side, you do have the Mandarin bar next door, so anything you save on the food will most likely get spent on the fabulous cocktails.
You will however need to get in quick, before The Park disappears in the planned refurbishment to fit in Heston Blumenthals new London venture : see Foliage replacement – the Gossip.
On our last trip to Barcelona, we had planned to spend the Saturday evening at Moo, but could not get a table, so at short notice via toptable I made a reservation at El Raco d’en Freixa instead.
When we arrived we were taken through the attractive front room, past the Kitchen into the rather dull small backroom, yes it looked like we had got the worst table in the Restaurant.
As we often do when we first try a restaurant we went for the tasting menu. The food here is “fun” as the chef likes to play with your preconceptions. The meat course looks like a dessert, and the desert looks like meat etc. The highlight was “the burger!”.
The biggest surprise was not the food however, it was the guest at the next table who got up and came over to speak to us. Talk about a small world, it was Markus Lindner, the restaurant Manager of the Foliage in London. He was also there as a second choice, when he could not get into Comerc 24 on the Saturday evening, so definitely a touch of serendipity there.
Update : February 2009 – El Raco d’en Freixa has now been replaced by FREIXA Tradicio.